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JOHANNESBURG - The rand slipped to its weakest in three weeks yesterday as traders opted to bank small profits from the currency’s dip below a crucial technical mark with creeping concerns about credit downgrades souring sentiment.

At 5pm, the rand was bid at R13.1683 to the dollar, 14.71c softer than at the same time on Tuesday. It had earlier slid to R13.1775, its worst level since August25.

Early trade saw the rand push below the 13 psychological mark as steady gold demand on the back of a bout of global risk aversion, attracting some long buyers as the unit approached the 12.95 short-term resistance point.

The interest was brief, with a warning by Moody’s that political pressure building around the central bank posed a key credit risk further swaying sentiment against the rand.

“The rand’s been one of the best-performing EM (emerging markets) currencies over the last few weeks so some profit-taking was to be expected,” said chief dealer at Treasury One, Wichard Cilliers.

Meanwhile, on the bourse, Woolworths slumped 3.92% to R58.80 as the retailer started trading without rights to its latest dividend payouts.

Truworths retreated 2.68% to close at R78.54.

Overall, investors took their cue from major overseas markets, which paused from a recent rally on easing concerns about North Korea.

The blue chip JSE Top40 index was off 0.37% at 49783.59 points and the broader all share index dropped 0.38% to 56152.54 points.

In fixed income, bonds firmed, with the yield for the benchmark government due in 2026 falling.